Monday, June 14, 2010

NYT Tuesday 6/15/10 - See the Light

This Tuesday New York Times crossword was one where I needed to see that final thematic answer to make sense of it all: I'd noticed that OFF and ON appeared in each answer but not realized that was the whole point of the puzzle. It's nice that the switch positions follow a logical order down the grid: e.g. the switch goes from ON to OFF in 17-Across and therefore must go from OFF to ON in 27-Across and so on.

Progress through the grid was mostly fairly smooth, although I fell for a couple of red herrings in the three-letter answers: I'd never have thought of spa for {Place to relax} at 4-Down and so den was my first guess there; I also had aye instead of pro for 64d {Voting yes}, which I admit is less supportable.

Is anyone else a little bemused by 58a Q-Tip {Stick it in your ear}? I first read the clue as {Stick in your ear} which I had in mind for the "Clue of the puzz". But re-reading it, I realize the part of speech of answer and clue don't really match up. {You stick it in your ear} would seem to work also ... but the clue as actually published looks to flout the convention that answer and clue are substitutible. If I've got the wrong end of the Q-Tip here, I hope someone will say so in a comment.

This does remind me of a rather lovely cryptic definition I saw in a British crossword once: the clue was {A word in your ear} and the answer was either incus or malleus ... I forget which now, and that lack of specificity is perhaps a weakness but it's great when you can take an idiom like that and use it as a clue verbatim.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 8d elf {Little help?}
Solution

Jill Winslow
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Phrases containing both ON and OFF, as indicated by 62a switch positions {Trade places ... or a hint to parts of 17-, 27- and 48-Across}.
17a on-again-off-again {Intermittent, as a relationship}
27a is off on a tangent {Leaves the main topic temporarily}
48a get on the off ramp {Start to exit an Interstate}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJill Winslow / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares60 (31.7%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeatureLipogram (U absent)
Video of the Day



44d rope tow {Aid for skiing uphill}. I went looking for a video to show what a rope tow does, but the above clip so amusingly demonstrates how NOT to use one (at that fave resort for cruciverbalists Alta, UT), that I had to go with it. In case you're still interested, a rope tow, also called a ski tow or handle tow, is a mechanized system for pulling skiers and snowboarders uphill. In its most basic form, it consists of a long rope loop running through a pulley at the bottom and one at the top, powered by an engine at one end. Passengers grab hold of the rope and are pulled along while standing on their skis or snowboards and sliding up the hill, with some variations having simple fixed handles. These simple forms remain popular for the relatively flat portions of ski areas devoted to beginners but are increasingly being replaced by magic carpets. The more advanced form uses a series of pulleys to follow the slope, and can be up to 1.4 km long tow with a 600 metre vertical rise. The forces involved and the pulleys which the rope passes through require the rider to attach using a "nutcracker" or "tow grabber". This style has now been superseded by T-bar lifts, platter lifts and chairlifts in most places.

The Doctor is IN

20a Leno {Host of a nightly TV show taped in Burbank}. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno originates from NBC's studios, in Burbank, CA.

67a Arlene {Francis of old game shows}. Arlene Francis (1907–2001) was a What's My Line? regular.

6d Orne {River of Normandy}. The Orne river formed the Eastern flank of the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II on 6 June 1944.

11d AAAA {Tiny battery}. AAAA batteries are 42.5mm long and 8.3mm in diameter, weighing around 6.5g and produce 1.5V.

32d Elena {___ Kagan, Obama nominee to the Supreme Court}. Elena Kagan got an M.Phil. from Oxford University so she can't be all bad:-)

33d novem {Caesar's nine}. Caesar counted thusly: unus, duo, tres, quattuor, quinque, sex, septem, octo, novem, decem.

Image of the Day

red eft

40d efts {Terrestrial salamanders}. eft is the term for the terrestrial juvenile phase of a newt. A newt is an amphibian of the Salamandridae family, although not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts. Newts are classified in the subfamily Pleurodelinae of the family Salamandridae, and are found in North America, Europe and Asia. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (called an eft), and adult. Adult newts have lizard-like bodies and may be either fully aquatic, living permanently in the water, or semi-aquatic, living terrestrially but returning to the water each year to breed.

Other Clues

1a fad {Pet rocks, once}; 4a shower {Prebirth event}; 10a page {Message runner}; 14a one {Top-of-the-charts number}; 15a parole {It may come before the end of a sentence}; 16a earn {Not get merely by accident}; 21a red {Sunburned}; 22a elate {Lift the spirits of}; 23a led {Spearheaded}; 25a sloe {Plumlike fruit}; 35a can so {Playground retort}; 36a ales {Pub deliveries}; 37a slow {Apply brakes to}; 38a IRS {Org. with audits}; 39a reverse {Gearbox option}; 42a eve {Day of anticipation}; 43a ne'er {___-do-well}; 45a fave {One you dig the most}; 46a finer {More exquisite}; 51a Paso {Old El ___ (food brand)}; 52a as a {Simile connection}; 53a aster {Fall bloom}; 56a fir {Resinous tree}; 58a Q-Tip {Stick it in your ear}; 66a kilo {Smuggler's unit}; 68a MCs {Show hosts, for short}; 69a stew {Dish simmered in a pot}; 70a no deal {Negotiator's refusal}; 71a eat {Dig in}.

1d fool {Jester}; 2d Anne {Rice who wrote "The Vampire Chronicles"}; 3d dean {College V.I.P.}; 4d spa {Place to relax}; 5d hairdo {Arrangement of locks}; 7d wood {Alternative to an iron}; 8d elf {Little help?}; 9d ref {Whistle blower, in brief}; 10d peg legs {Limbs for movie pirates}; 12d grit {Sand}; 13d -enne {Feminine suffix}; 18d golfs {Uses an iron or a 7-Down, say}; 19d aeon {Time in earth's history}; 24d E for {Get an ___ effort}; 25d stereo {Quadraphonic halved}; 26d lass {Scottish miss}; 27d icing {Last step at a bakery}; 28d saree {Delhi wrap: Var.}; 29d onset {Beginning}; 30d Navaho {Arizona tribe}; 31d Aleve {Pain reliever brand}; 34d twerp {Impudent nobody}; 41d effs {Bad grades}; 47d Iraqi {Modern dweller in ancient Ur}; 49d narc {Crack officer?}; 50d farina {Hot breakfast cereal}; 53d asks {Questions}; 54d Swit {Loretta of "M*A*S*H"}; 55d tile {Scrabble piece}; 56d fold {Bow out of a poker hand}; 57d I see {"Now it's clear"}; 59d tome {Big book}; 60d Inca {Member of a Pre-Columbian empire}; 61d psst! {It's attention-getting}; 63d Han {___ Solo, Harrison Ford role}; 64d pro {Voting yes}; 65d Tel {___ Aviv}.

5 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

I wasn't so much bothered by the Q-Tip clue (58A) though it is a bit odd. What really set me OFF was 27A. If one "leaves" the main topic, one is the process of transferring ones attention from said main topic to a tangent. One is not already there, as the answer denotes!

If an airplane "leaves" the ground, it is in the process of departure. It "is leaving" the ground, possibly w/ nose in air but rear wheels still on the tarmac. One does not describe it as already in the air.

Right. Class, repeat after me:

http://www.kyrene.org/schools/brisas/sunda/verb/1action.htm

Anonymous said...

I agree that QTIP is poorly clued. I'm fine with the entry, but the clueing momentarily forced me to stop and mull over the phrasing.

I immediately wanted GO OFF ON A TANGENT. With the crosses not going anywhere, I considered 'BE OFF.....', and then found my way to 'IS OFF.....' If I had gotten one of the crosses for the first two letters, then I probably never would have noticed potential conflict. Though the clue felt cumbersome to read, I don't have a particular problem with the grammar aspect. My desire to put in GO is definitely at odds with the clue phrasing. Either BE or IS is okay (for me). IF one 'leaves', THEN one 'is'.

Anonymous said...

I agree that QTIP is poorly clued. I'm fine with the entry, but the clueing momentarily forced me to stop and mull over the phrasing.

I immediately wanted GO OFF ON A TANGENT. With the crosses not going anywhere, I considered 'BE OFF.....', and then found my way to 'IS OFF.....' If I had gotten one of the crosses for the first two letters, then I probably never would have noticed potential conflict. Though the clue felt cumbersome to read, I don't have a particular problem with the grammar aspect. My desire to put in GO is definitely at odds with the clue phrasing. Either BE or IS is okay (for me). IF one 'leaves', THEN one 'is'.

Crossword Man said...

Oh gee, sheesh etc. I dunno DM. I see precisely what you're getting at, but to me it's splitting hairs and I'm basically OK with the clue given the "temporarily". Now {Leaves the main topic} would be more wrong to my mind.

Anon, I remember similar struggles - temporarily - with the first two-letter word of 27-Across. Nothing wrong with that form of answer, but the infinitive of the verb is so much more common, you're tripped up by anything else.

Apologies all ... it looks like Blogger is throwing a wobbly again; before I left this reply, it said there was 1 comment, but clicking revealed 3. I wonder what will happen after I post this!

Daniel Myers said...

No, if one HAS LEFT this blog then one is somewhere else, perhaps on a sine wave.